To Test, or to Over Test?

Today was the third day for me administering the NYS Standardized Math Test, here in the school, where I teach fifth-grade inclusion students. This blog post was started two nights ago, but after testing modifications with a special location, extended time, questions read, language simplified, and luckily... breaks included, I was fried! We have been told as teachers not to discuss the test. Therefore, everything I am writing about came from sources in the news. In this blog, I would also like to mention Pearson, the behemoth of an educational company that, “Developed and published under contract with the New York State Education Department.” Are these testing materials funded by taxpayers dollars, yes! Read more here... “This year, every aspect of the test has come under scrutiny, from the questions themselves to how much the state is paying Pearson to create it ($32 million over five years), to how much time classroom teachers will have to spend grading it and how much the grading will cost city schools.”  NY Times On New York State’s math exam, mistakes were noticed at the very last minute. On the fourth grade exam, officials alerted public school principals that one of the questions on the fourth-grade exam had two correct answers, but students would not be told this unless they explicitly asked. The state says they will give either of the correct answers credit. Another question, this one on the eighth-grade exam, was thrown out because of a typo that made all of the available answers incorrect. Do you think they told the students to skip that question or were kids working and reworking trying to find the correct choice out of A, B, C, or D when it didn’t exist? Quality Control... puh-leeze! Another problem, the pollen count is unusually high according to the experts, and parents have complained that their children are sneezing and coughing or coming to school on Benadryl during the six important days of exam taking. Teachers are also concerned and have seen the Kleenex boxes disappearing as fast as they are replaced. Susan Barnes, the principal of Public School 112 Bronxwood, said that many of her students were suffering from allergies and came to the exams “all doped up” on medications like Benadryl, which their parents gave them before school. Let's reiterate: Pearson is making a bundle, mistakes on exams are confusing students, students are coming to school sick. Remind me again, why are we doing his?  The consensus, No High Stakes Decisions Should Be Made Based On These Pearson Tests. Let me tell you why… One of my ESL students, who happens to be a strong math student, came to school this morning very off. He had real difficulty focusing and seemed overly challenged by this final segment of the exam. After the testing was over we sat and talked. When inquiring as to why he was distracted, he went on to tell me that he didn’t get any sleep last night. Turns out that aunts and uncles were playing poker and a bit of a party was going on. His mom was not home, “She works a second job to pay rent,” I was told.  Sleeping arrangements were described as three to four in a room, including the living room. He went on to tell me that he doesn’t see his dad anymore and he really misses him. He asked me if I had any cereal because he was still hungry.  On any other given day, this child could have been equally off, or he could have been having a day where he is spot on. So really, how valid is this exam when we all know he wasn’t the only child coming to school with anything but the math on his mind…….  
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